Bluebell Railway Education Department
The Bluebell Railway is based at Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex, TN22 3QL, on the A275 some two miles north of the A272 and midway between Haywards Heath (7 miles) and Uckfield (8 miles). It runs some 11 miles north from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes, Kingscote and East Grinstead where it connects with Southern mainline trains. In all it provides a 22 mile round trip. The Railway’s four stations, its locomotives and its rolling stock cover a period of railway history from the 1870s to the 1950s and as such provide children with a unique insight into a way of life that has largely disappeared from the United Kingdom today.
Visits can be tailored to meet specific teaching needs relating to the National Curriculum, or to provide experience of specific events, such as WWII evacuation exercises, or occasions, such as enrichment days.
Trains normally depart Sheffield Park Station for the 1 hour 40 minute return journey but other arrangements are possible.
Further information can be found in the School Visits Leaflet – providing an outline of the format for the day.
School Visits: £9.50 pp
WWII Evacuation Package: £11.00 pp
Other than refreshments and retail goods from the shop the above fares are inclusive. A deposit of £50.00 is required to confirm a booking with full payment to be made four weeks before the travel date. Payment can be made by cash, cheque, card, invoice or BACS.
Free car and coach parking: available at both Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations but due to planning restrictions there is no parking at Kingscote station. At East Grinstead station there is limited disabled parking available but no Bluebell car or coach facilities. Public car parks however are available nearby.
Disabled Visitors: a carriage for wheelchair bound or mobility impaired visitors is normally available.
Reserved accommodation on trains: seating in open plan carriages is reserved for groups starting their journeys at Sheffield Park. Unfortunately no seats can be reserved on departures from East Grinstead.
Toilets: available on board most trains (not disabled) and at all four stations with disabled facilities available at Sheffield Park, Kingscote and East Grinstead stations.
Picnic areas: available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote Stations while covered areas are available beneath platform canopies at all three stations and in the Waiting Rooms at both Horsted Keynes and Kingscote Stations. Snacks can also be eaten on board the train.
Gift Shop: Sheffield Park Station – a souvenir pack can be made up in advance of your visit.
Guided visits: an experienced guide is normally available to accompany the party.
Preliminary Visits and Risk Assessment
It is the responsibility of schools to conduct satisfactory risk assessments prior to their visit but the Bluebell can assist in two ways:
- Free preliminary visit for up to two teaching staff on an agreed date, including a trip on the train. This will provide the opportunity to inspect the facilities on offer, and to discuss any specific needs with our experienced staff. Arrangements for such visits should be made via the Sales and Information Office or the Education Officer.
- Guidance as to the risk assessment factors that will need to be taken into account during these visits.
Aside from formal School Visits, the Bluebell provides younger children between the ages of three and eight with opportunities to learn about the Railway through the medium of The Stepney Club. The aim is to foster an interest in railways, steam locomotives and our railway heritage; a sort of Thomas the Tank Engine for the discerning.
Stepney is our figurehead engine – he was the first engine to come to the railway in 1960 and featured in his own book (no.18), “Stepney the “Bluebell” Engine” by the Rev. W. Awdry.
Members of the Stepney Club receive and can enjoy:
- A badge, membership card and discounted travel on the Bluebell Railway at any time
- A card from Stepney on their birthday
- A magazine every four months containing stories, pictures, puzzles, information about upcoming events and letters and drawings from members
- A Stepney club carriage on one of our Santa trains at Christmas with half price tickets for members and their families with a free raffle and lucky dip for club members and their siblings
- A summer event – either a birthday party for Stepney on the railway or an outing to a railway themed venue the cost is £8 for a year’s membership, £12 for two years and £16 for three years
If you require further information about the Club this can be obtained from the Membership Secretary Gerry Smith – firstname.lastname@example.org
To assist schools when planning visits to the Bluebell the Railway has produced a series of Information sheets which provide background information about the development of railways as a whole and the Bluebell Railway inparticular. These are designed to provide information across arange of subjects in a straight forward uncomplicated manner suitable for a range of age groups.